We think ministry should be easy. We think people will fall all over themselves to thank us for serving them. We think.
If you read my last blog post, you know that I volunteered to work with the kids at the African church that I’ve been going to on Sunday evenings. I was really excited about the opportunity to serve!
Here’s how I thought it would be when I showed up: The kids would be sitting in rows, hanging on every word I said, wanting to sing the songs I’d thoughtfully picked out, cooperatively playing the games, assiduously working on the crafts.
Ha-ha. Ministry isn’t always easy. Maybe God was like, “Okay, Melinda, you want to see what it’s really like to serve people in my name? Here you go!”
Here’s what it was really like: Imagine forty kids and me, in an 80+ degree room that is about 15′ x 20′. Note there is a door that leads to the outside. This is an important detail.
Imagine older boys running in and out of the room, pushing and kicking and making the little ones cry. Imagine kids jumping on chairs and tables, and fighting over toys. Did I mention how hot it was in the room? Is your blood pressure going up yet? How about now: the church service lasted for three hours. Three. Hours.
Imagine that no one listens to you when you talk. Or when you raise your voice, for that matter. Or maybe even if you yell (I am not admitting that I did, but you can imagine it if you want to). Theoretically speaking, you would feel like yelling, too, if a kid hit you directly on top of the head with a large wooden cube. Not that I necessarily yelled, per se; but theoretically speaking, it’s possible.
Tonight, the pastor of the congregation that meets upstairs came downstairs to see why kids were running upstairs into their church service. Whoopsie. He took one look into the room and said, “THIS is more than ministry!”
I got back into the (tiny, hot) room just in time to see two kids slip out the back door. Sigh.
Now, it’s easy to look back and laugh at my time with these kids. I might laugh when my voice returns. Not that I lost it yelling, mind you!
More importantly, I’ve been reflecting on the lesson I can learn from this ministry. I pray that I can get to know these kids one by one (all 40 of them!) and grow to love them (even the head-banger!) and see them as Christ sees them.
Because, above all, these are precious kids that Jesus loves. When God made it clear to me that this was something I should be doing, he didn’t happen to mention that it would be difficult. I keep thinking that at least I can go home on Sunday evening and have a whole week of rest before working with the kids again, so I figure this is just pre-field training for my ministry in Africa.
And look: Aren’t they adorable? Doesn’t it make you want to come and help?